Writing poetry is an act of simultaneous vulnerability and power. The teens who submitted their work to our 2021 Teen Poetry Contest risked sharing their emotions, opinions, and uninhibited voices with the world. By doing so, they claimed the power in their words.
These poems are urgent and intense; they demand to be read. The poets speak unflinchingly of mental illness, pandemic, environmental issues, heartache, homophobia, police violence, and poverty. They express anxiety and fear alongside hope for the future. They capture these tense and unstable times through the raw honesty of teenage perspectives, and wow--they are a force to be reckoned with.
In her poem “Speak Out,” Abigail Rudolph captures the defiance and strength found in these poems: “I dare you to tell me to be gentle with my words and actions. Tell me to keep all my passion in my head...I will rage until my dying days.” I am honored to share the work of these talented teen poets, and I encourage you to take your time with their words, to sit with the vulnerable truths they reveal, and to feel the power they command.